Strategy #5 - Every Dollar Counts

DEVELOP EFFICIENT VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURE

 In order to keep prices down, we need to use our dollars as effectively and efficiently as possible.  We are an international organization, and the more money we save in expenses we get to invest in projects, education, advocacy and publishing to help you.

Utilize Virtual Business Tools For Access To And Processing Information

We are all spread across North America, and some of us are even overseas.   Using smart information sharing tools and the “cloud” will help us all be on the same page at the same time, and get to information quicker.

 We have started using Dropbox (Business Edition) for sharing information among the NASAR staff and the Board of Directors.  Previous to this, the Board did not have access to any file sharing.  Now the Board has access to all the corporate minutes (going back to 1993), all contracts, bylaws, VA corporate law, historical strategy plans, status reports, and legal documents.  This has enabled the Board of Directors to be better informed when deliberating and making decisions, and provides a better institutional record keeping system.

 We are also using DropBox to give instructors and lead evaluators access to files as well.  It used to be that course updates and exam updates were passed hand to hand from member to member, resulting in multiple versions of courses and exams creating confusion for everyone.  Now, each instructor and lead evaluator has access to the courses and exams through DropBox.  When we update material, it gets loaded to the appropriate DropBox and then everyone gets the update at the same time.  This is a huge step forward for the quality of our programs and supporting our instructors and lead evaluators.

There will be other uses for DropBox as we get to understand it and we continue to build new programs.

Streamline Where Possible / Eliminate Wasted Efforts

There is so much paper we collect, and we hardly ever access it for any useful purpose.  This is very frustrating.  You don’t have time to create useless paperwork, and we don’t have time to collect and save it.  Ellen and I are going through every piece of paper and every data element to see what we really need, and how to cut out the waste.  This means you will see some updated forms and other tools in the near future.

 Automate And Digitize To Eliminate Paper Handling

NASAR has turned the corner from being a paper shuffling organization to a data collection organization.  It is impossible for us to keep paper records like we did 2 or 3 years ago.  The Board is all over the US, I am in Texas, and Ellen is in Virginia.  A single physical record is no longer viable.  We are saving everything electronically so that we can all have access to at the same time.  This means that we will be asking our instructors and lead evaluators to begin sending us their information electronically (scanned rosters, etc.) so that we can process it quickly and then place it into the correct DropBox for later reference.

 Enable The Membership Through A Robust Portal

Our new website is rich with information, and with the increase in capability we have increased the complexity (and a learning curve for all of us).  We have included everything from the old site, and are building new items to engage members and keep them informed.  One of these new tools is the website front page News Blog.  We place short articles about important topics, new policies, scheduled events, etc. right there on the front so it is easy for you to access. 

Recently under the “meeting minutes” area of the website you will see that we are posting our quarterly financials for everyone to see.  This is a part of our transparency initiative, and goes beyond what is required be VA corporate code.  Information like this helps you understand the same information we have as we make management decisions for the organization.

 Research And Choose A Learning Management System (LMS)

Multi-day courses are hard for volunteers and paid personnel to attend.  Hard for volunteers because they usually need to use vacation time that they should be spending with their families, and hard for paid personnel because there is little overtime in budgets now days to have someone cover for them.

With this in mind, we are going to start looking for a LMS that will host more online courses, or parts of courses.  Imagine if you could take the first few days of a course lecture on line (at your convenience), and then just attend a one or two day hands on exercise and field test to complete it.  Look for more information on this really progressive program in the near future.

 Staffing Model For Growth

Our growth and success needs to be managed through a plan, and we have one.  The plan includes which positions we will hire next, and how they will build and contribute to our success and next steps. 

Wrap Up

You can see from the items in strategy #5 that we want to be very efficient and use every dollar to its maximum, be as responsive as possible, and build for the future.

I hope these articles help you understand where we are heading and how you can help us all get there together. 

Thanks for being a member and holding on for the past year while we developed a strong foundation for NASAR to succeed.  I appreciate your patience, and if you have any questions please feel free to call me or contact me at chrisb@nasar.org.


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